A prospective candidate for this year’s Local Government election in Ballymoney Town has reacted angrily to the news that Ballymoney Borough Council has agreed an increased contribution to the forthcoming Northern Ireland Milk Cup.
Iain McAfee (pictured) who intends to stand as an Independent said described the donation of £15,000 as a “total joke.”
In a statement, Mr. McAfee said: “Since hearing about it I have raised it with many people and have received a universal air of disgust.
“First and foremost let us not forget this is ratepayers money and as one of those ratepayers I am furious that it is being handed over to an event that brings no benefit to Ballymoney whatsoever.
“While several games are played at the Riada Stadium, very few if any of these people who attend the matches stay after games or spend money in the town.
“In addition none of the teams stay locally and last year not one of the players in the tournament even came from the Borough. To argue that this contribution will benefit this Borough is to insult the intelligence of the people of Ballymoney quite frankly.
“Furthermore I am also very shocked that despite the public stated concerns in the media last year and at a presentation by Milk Cup officials at the Council meeting on 4th January this year by very prominent Council members, this was still voted through.”
“What’s more ridiculous is that the contribution to the Milk Cup is more than twice what the Council provides to local groups for good relations work in the Borough.
“While groups are looking to organise activities that will enhance relations and create better understanding between communities, they are told that there is no money left.
“Some Council members need to get their priorities right and I would go as far as to suggest that the some are completely out of touch with the community’s feelings on this issue.
“Why do the present Council members not listen or ask local people about crucial decisions like this? Maybe it is because they know they would be told in no uncertain terms about how idiotic it is.”
Mr. McAfee also claimed that there is a frustration particularly among ‘football people’ in the area who have seen no investment or backing.
He commented: “We have in the town two teams playing at the second level of Irish League football yet they get no support from the Council and are expected to pay full rates for hire of facilities for matches and training.
“Similarly the Borough has a large number of youth football teams who are in exactly the same boat. Why therefore isn’t the money not provided to benefit the people of this Borough?
“If Ballymoney Borough Council is so keen to give money towards football then direct that £15,500 into a fund to develop coaching and infrastructure to nurture the young football stars of the future.”